Tag Archives: obese cats

Fat Cat or Cool Cat?

We can all relate to the fat cat named Garfield.  Garfield eats whenever and whatever he can, especially lasagna. We chuckle at his many attempts to shovel food into his capable of becoming enormous jaws.  But being a fat cat is not a cool way to be.

Chubbiness or excess fat on a cat can be a serious health risk. When you look at your cat and cannot make out a visible waist or  can’t feel his ribs when you stroke his sides, chances are your cat is overweight. Cats, by their nature, spend a good part of their day laying around on a soft bed; be it the couch, your bed or a comfy pillow.  This typical lifestyle can lend itself to feline obesity.  In the United States, over 50% of all cats are overweight.  Just as with humans, excess weight can lead to bone and joint problems, diabetes, lung, heart and kidney diseases, among others.  Cats whose diets are too high in sugar store this sugar in their bodies and organs, which creates health problems.  It is important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if you suspect he has become overweight.

So what do you do when your cat has put on too many pounds? As humans we might hit the treadmill or lift some weights.  Cats are not likely to perform such activities and look to you for their regular exercise.  A cat needs to be engaged in regular activities several times a day. Chasing a laser beam light around the room is a great way to get your cat active.  Dangling a toy on a string or just the string itself dragged behind you will have your cat chasing and pouncing those pounds away.  Provide your cat with a climbing tree which can be sprinkled at the top with catnip.  Scratching posts will allow your cat to stretch and strengthen his arm muscles.  There are many cat towers that have dangling toys and scratching posts to engage your cat and accomplish more than one type of exercise.

The average  10 pound cat needs only about 200 calories per day.  It is key that you choose the right food.  If there is too much sugar in the dry product, cats may become addicted to it.  They may lay around all day waiting for their next sugar fix.  Canned food is higher in protein with small amounts of fat and less carbs.   It has more water in it which is important for a cat’s urinary tract.  For cats who are overweight, 1/4 of a 5.5 ounce can two times per day is usually enough.  The higher level of meat or fish protein in canned food will satiate a cat better than a grain-rich, higher carb dry food. This will result in less begging for food.  You can keep feeding the lesser amount of food until your cat is at its desired weight. Adding a little more canned food or some dry food will help your cat maintain his desired weight.

If your cat only eats dry food, look for one that is labeled “light” or for “less active cats” if your cat is packing on too many pounds.  These tend to be lower in carbohydrates. Remember that dry foods contain only 10% water so be sure your pet gets plenty of water throughout the day.  Often cats have a low thirst drive and cannot make up his water needs with dry food.  Try to slowly introduce some canned food to your finicky dry food lover.  Dry foods tend to be calorie dense so watch those portion sizes.

As your cat loses weight, he will likely become more active and achieve his weight goal more quickly.  The end result will be a happier, healthier and livelier pet.  Isn’t that what we cat lovers want after all?